ThIt's been two years since I was in labor with Lydia. In just a few short hours, she will officially be a two year old. As I go back through thinking about what I was doing two years ago at this time, I'm drawn once again to watch her birth video and read her birth story. As I read through this, I feel there is so many things I would now add as I look back. I thought I'd take this time to add those comments and thoughts in. It's amazing that the story changes some, and you remember more and more as time passes and your view points and knowledge changes. I hope to be able to do this with both my girls birth stories every few years. In blue are the comments and thoughts I have on Lydia's birth two years later.
All of my pregnancy with Lydia flew by. I was pretty miserable the majority of it, but still it felt like I was only pregnant a month or two.
I don't know if this is true. I do remember feeling like it flew by, but at the same time, I also remember vomiting excessively for 20 weeks, so I think the first half of the pregnancy felt endless too.
That is until I hit about 37 weeks. Then time seemed to slow down, and I felt like I was going to be pregnant FOREVER. And EVER and EVER.I had said in the beginning of pregnancy that I thought she’d be here on May 13th or 14th, but at some point in the process I changed my mind. I felt so big that I thought surely this baby would come earlier than that. I had been having braxton hicks contractions from 20 weeks on, but once I hit 38 weeks they really started to intensify. There were several times that I was sure I was in early labor, including twice that the contractions woke me up in the middle of the night. One of those nights was the night before my birthday. I remember waking up and being so uncomfortable, and I thought maybe I'd get a baby for my birthday........no such luck. Each time I got in the bath to see if they would slow down or go away, and they did every time. And I was so disappointed every time. We were planning a home birth, and I really didn’t want to call Nancy (our midwife) if it wasn’t the real thing. Nancy had said she would be completely okay coming out even if it just ended up being a false alarm, but I would have felt bad about it. Thankfully things were able to slow down each time, and I never called until the real thing. I had gone in to labor at 38+5 with Alice, and as we passed that point in Lydia’s pregnancy, I really started getting anxious and impatient. I felt like I was going to be pregnant forever. Lol obviously I wasn’t even at my due date yet, but to me at the time it seemed to be taking forever.Yes, because a day feels like a month at the end of pregnancy. It is known.
On the morning of Tuesday, May 13th Alice and I went on a play date with Amanda (our birth photographer) and her son, Michael. Amanda was headed out of town that Thursday and wouldn’t be back until Monday (my due date). She also had an induction scheduled for Wednesday. She was telling me about her back up photographer and all that. I then asked her, “What if I go into labor today?” I remember saying this, and it just feeling so right. Like I knew inside me that that day was the day, but I didn't dare say it out loud. She told me if I went into labor that day or early the next morning she’d be able to make it to the birth, but if not, her back up would have to be there, unless I could hold off until Monday. I really didn’t want to wait until Monday to have the baby (as if I had a choice in the matter), but I also really didn’t want anyone else taking pictures at my birth besides Amanda. Evidently Lydia felt the same way, because we got home from the play date, I put Alice down for a nap, and then went to the bathroom. And lo and behold I lost my mucous plug and had bloody show. It’s amazing how excited one can get over blood and mucous! Amanda has since become one of my best friends. She's an amazing woman, and Lydia loves her to pieces. Lydia's fairly attached to me, and doesn't go to just anyone. Yet she never hesitates to go to Amanda and immediately cuddle with her. Sometimes I think that maybe she just loved her from the beginning and really didn't want anybody else taking her pictures ;-) Also, I'm not kidding when I say that I was excited about the mucous and blood. I didn't believe it at first, and then I googled pictures of mucous plugs, just to be sure of what I was seeing, despite the fact that I knew what a mucous plug with brown blood looked like. That's how Alice's labor had started. Then I did a happy dance.
I put on my necklace from my blessingway,I also put on mascara and braided my hair. I knew I'd be laboring in the tub and curls plus water are unpredictable. The safe bet was the braid. and I called Tyler and told him to go ahead and come home from work. I figured things would start picking up in a few hours, and I wanted help getting some things done before then. I still didn’t call Nancy or even Amanda, because I was afraid I might still have a few days. In retrospect, this was kind of a jerk move for me, especially since Nancy lived an hour and a half away, and I don't exactly have long labors. I know I always ask my clients to contact me if anything happens just as a heads up. I probably should have done the same for her. After getting my hopes up so many times in the few weeks before, I really didn’t want to do it this time. Once Tyler got home we went to the grocery store and got some dinner. At this point my contractions were very, very mild and about 7 to 8 minutes apart. It was getting close to Alice’s bedtime so we made the decision that we should probably just go ahead and have Alice go to Tyler’s mom’s.I actually very much regret that decision. I wish I had Alice there for the birth or at least given her the option.. Tyler called her. She offered to pick Alice up, but my contractions were so mild at the time that I told Tyler not to worry about it and that he could go drop her off. I also texted Amanda to let her know what was going on. I decided to wait to call Nancy until Tyler came back home. While Tyler was gone I started cleaning the house and preparing our room and bathroom for baby. Tyler was gone for about 45 minutes and things really started to intensify during that time. When he left my contractions were 7 minutes apart, and I could easily walk and talk through them. By the time he got back home around 7:45, they were four minutes apart, and I was definitely having to stop and breath through them. So things were moving fairly fast. At this point I called Nancy. After talking to me (and Tyler when I was having a contraction) and asking a few questions, she said she’d call Rose (Nancy’s assistant) and head on out. Nancy lives about an hour and a half away, so I knew it’d be a little while before she got there. During this time Tyler continued to clean. I was a little OCD about the house being as clean as possible. I was helping in between contractions. Tyler got the bed ready with all it’s 18 million layers and lit all the candles in our bathroom from my blessing way. Poor Tyler was getting so many cleaning instructions from me. I even yelled at him, because I felt he wasn't being supportive enough of my desire to birth in a spotless house. The nesting instinct was REAL. I was trying to hold off on getting into the bath as long as possible. I wanted to stay upright and keep things progressing. Finally the pain and the contractions were strong enough that I really felt like I needed the water for pain relief so I went ahead and got in the bathtub. I actually remember this moment really well. I was standing in the bathroom in front of the sink. I would lean and sway or squat during a contraction. I really was trying to hold off on getting in, but the intensity felt like too much. I remember saying, "I have to get in the tub right now, or I'm not going to be able to handle this."
S Around 9:30, shortly after I got in the tub, Rose showed up. At that point I had Tyler go ahead and let Amanda know that she should head on over. Nancy showed up not long after Rose got there. Someone (I think Rose) had the brilliant idea to turn off the lights and just have the candles in the bathroom. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it, but it really did help me relax. At some point in there, Amanda showed up. At this point I was definitely in my ‘labor zone’. I remember everyone came in and out so quietly. The atmosphere was so peaceful and relaxed. They put a lamp on the floor in our bedroom, so there wouldn't be the harsh overhead light. They not only respected the birth environment. They helped to make it perfect.. Once I was in the water the contractions never felt overly painful. I still had to work through them, but it all felt so manageable. Almost easy. Tyler helped put counter pressure on my back when I needed it and put a cool washcloth and ice pack on my head and neck. The water was very hot, which was great for the pain, but it also made the rest of me hot. They made sure I always had a full glass of cold water and Gatorade next to me. Ha Tyler used a tennis ball (out of my doula bag) to do counter pressure which was great. It's just I only wanted counter pressure during the peak of the contraction, and then after it felt awful. He learned pretty quickly the hand motion I would make when it was time to stop the counter pressure, despite the contraction not being over.
Finally around 11pm, I began feeling the need to push. Amanda went and got Nancy. Nancy checked me, and I was 8 cm. Nancy suggested I get out of the water and change positions and maybe try squatting. Well that sounded like a horrible idea to me. Lol even though I knew it was actually a good idea and something I would suggest to a client. So I compromised and decided to squat in the tub. I really just didn’t want to get out of the water. Seriously, I never wanted to leave the water. I remember asking, "well can I squat in the tub?" Oddly enough after Nancy checked me, and I realized I was already at 8 cm I got a burst of energy. I was even able to talk and smile and laugh in between contractions. I really was so afraid Nancy would check me, and I'd only be 4 cm, and that I'd have forever to go. I looked at Amanda, and said, "Watch me be only four or five centimeters." She confidently looked at me and said, "You're not." I do remember Amanda asking, “Do you think you’ll have this baby on the 13th or the 14th?” I then asked, “what time is it?” She said, “11:15″ and I said, “Alright well let’s make it the 13th then.” Eh I cut it close. Missed the 13th by 14 minutes. My water hadn’t broken yet, and I knew if I could just get that to happen then the baby would come quick. I felt like that was the only thing in the way. I squatted in the tub for a while. I’m not sure exactly how long. Everyone was in there with me during this time, and I just felt so loved and supported. I really did feel so much love, encouragement, support, and respect. My heart still overflows thinking about how amazing my birth team made me feel!
Eventually Nancy asked me how long it had been since I last went to the bathroom.Dammit I know what's coming. Once again something I would ask a client. I reluctantly admitted it had been a while. I knew I had had a lot to drink and really should empty my bladder, and that could possibly help move things along. But that required me to get out of the tub, which I was not looking forward to.I should of just told her I'd pee in the water. Nancy also suggested working through a few contractions on the toilet while I was there. So I got out, peed, and sat on the toilet for a few contractions. This is where things begin to get a little fuzzy. Okay, maybe a lot fuzzy. I’m not real sure on a lot of details during this time. For the first time during the whole labor I really started to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of the contractions. I kept wanting my water to break, and I expected it to when I pushed (as it did with Alice), but it just wasn’t happening. We ended up moving to the bed where I was pushing side lying. Tyler got behind me. Funny thing here, I remember when I first laid down side-lying on the bed that someone got behind me. I actually did not realize it was Tyler. I just felt hands on my arms, and they felt so soft. I thought it was Rose or Amanda. I remember thinking, "huh, that's a little strange that they're comfortable basically spooning me, but it's also really sweet that they are that supportive." Truthfully, I'm a cuddler so it was whatever. Once I felt the arm hair though, then I realized it was Tyler. I'm honestly still not sure if his hands really were that soft or if my senses were just off due to labor. . I remember Amanda, Rose, and Nancy all encouraging me. Once again I really felt overwhelmed at this point. For the first time I felt like I couldn’t do this. Also Nancy was trying to rub out/ hold back a small cervical lip I had. Yea, that was not comfortable. It made me want to climb the walls. I just wanted a break, but as is usual at that point in labor my contractions were one on top of another. With Alice when I pushed I felt relieved. Probably because my water broke the first push with her. I preferred pushing to the contractions. It was the opposite with Lydia, and not what I expected. In retrospect, I probably wasn’t on the bed all that long, but it felt like a long time then. I asked Nancy if she could just break my water. She said she could, but she still waited a few contractions before she did. Those few contractions felt like an eternity.
I desperately wanted to get back in the tub. Actually, it was more like, "I'm getting back in the bathtub. I need to be back in the tub." Tyler said, "Well then let's go" and Nancy responds with, "Did you still want me to break your water?" .Nancy broke my water, and then Tyler had to pull me up to get me back into the bathroom.Because moving when fully dilated is near impossible. I felt like I needed to pee so I decided to sit on the toilet before I got in the water. I don’t think I sat on the toilet for 15 seconds before I suddenly felt the baby coming out. I stood up and said, “This baby’s coming now.” I remember saying this, and Nancy saying, "Good" and then turning around rushing in to catch Lydia. I remember standing there unable to form words, but wanting to say, "No, you don't understand. This baby is coming right this second. She's falling out of me, and I'm hanging on for dear life on my husband." Lol they safely caught her. There was no time to get gloves on, and Amanda somehow managed to find and hand Rose towels and still get pictures of her falling out. Seriously, BEST. BIRTH. TEAM. EVER.!Nancy and Rose rushed in, and Lydia all but fell out. I think technically I did push once, but she definitely didn’t waste anytime coming after my water had been broken. They wrapped her in a towel and handed her to me. She was so beautiful. Tyler and I both cried.I honestly didn’t even think to check whether she was a boy or a girl until Nancy asked me, “does this baby have a name?”. I checked then and was so excited to have another little girl. I really was. She was absolutely perfect.And she still makes some of the same serious faces.
Lydia Jeanne was born at 12:14am on Wednesday May 14th. She weighed 8lbs 6oz and was 21 inches long and looks exactly like her Daddy!Still does. After she was born we moved to the bed to cut the cord and deliver the placenta. Tyler is super squeamish about blood and such. He wouldn’t cut the cord (he didn’t with Alice either) so Rose cut it.Rose and I have also become really great friends since Lydia's birth. She's this strong, powerful, incredible woman who is changing the world. She's going to school to be a midwife, and I've already made her agree to catch my next baby. No this is not a pregnancy announcement. I'm just saying if (not when) I was to ever have another baby, I would want her there! Lydia found the breast on her own and latched right on. I was beyond excited about this since Alice and I were never able to have a nursing relationship.Seriously, so amazing to watch and experience. Babies are so smart. They know what they need. Lydia’s been a breastfeeding champ ever since!Still true. Two years and still loves her "bee beets" very much.
I truly could not have asked for a better, more beautiful birth. I have been asked if there’s anything I would have changed, and in retrospect I probably wouldn’t have asked Nancy to break my water. And I would have had Alice there. I would have tried longer and changed positions to try to get it to break on it’s own, but at the time I knew that’s what it would take to get the baby to come. There’s nothing else I would have changed. I was planning on having a water birth, but Lydia had other plans. I’m glad she came out the way she did. It made for some really awesome pictures!Like really, really awesome pictures. Some that I didn't post on the blog, because they're intense, but still beautiful and amazing! Which ironically, are the exact same words I'd use to describe Lydia.
I learned so much through Lydia’s birth. I went into it thinking all the birth I’ve been exposed to and my training as a doula would really help me through the process. And it did. I certainly viewed birth as a natural event and nothing to be feared, and that helped tremendously. But still a lot of my knowledge went right out the window when I was in the labor process. I forgot some of the most simple things I ask clients about. I also forgot to never expect things to go a certain way. No two births are the same. The only time I felt like labor was more than I can handle was when things were not going as I expected. Not going as they did during Alice’s birth (you can read her birth story here). I also was reminded how beautiful it is to see women supporting other women during birth. I’m usually on the giving side of the support (which I absolutely love), but this time I was on the receiving side. And it was truly beautiful! I had the most amazing birth team. I can never thank Nancy, Rose, and Amanda for all that they did. I have never in my life felt more loved and supported than I did during Lydia’s birth. All three of those amazing ladies will always hold a special place in my heart because of it. It truly is not about who is at your birth, but how they make you feel. I feel no such love towards the OB that caught Alice, because he never made me feel safe and supported like Nancy and Rose did. I’m so thankful for my husband and the fact that he is the man that he is. He is so supportive, and I truly could not do it without his help. I’m so glad I was able to have a home birth. It was incredible, and I could never imagine giving birth in a hospital ever again. I felt proud of myself. Proud of my body and all that it was able to do. I felt strong, beautiful, and capable, and that is how every birthing woman should be made to feel! <3
All photos and video by Amanda Ditzel at Raleigh Birth Photography
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